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About the Memphis & Shelby County Room

 

Have you ever wondered when your house was built, who was the first city mayor or what Memphis was like during World War II? You can find these answers and so much more in a special room on the fourth floor at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library. Established in 1971, the Memphis and Shelby County Room contains a wealth of primary sources on the history of our city and county.

 

What are primary sources? They are original records created at the time a historical event occurred. For example the diary of a Memphian who fought in the Civil War, a map of Memphis in 1900, an 1880 photograph of Main Street, the memoirs of a television journalist who covered the Civil Rights movement, newspaper articles describing the death of Elvis Presley in 1977, and the remembrances of a founder of the Universal Life Insurance Company are all primary sources housed in the Memphis and Shelby County Room.

 

The Memphis and Shelby County Room houses thousands of books, reports, pamphlets, 600 maps, 35,000 photographs and hundreds of oral histories. In addition, the Memphis and Shelby County Room contains the Memphis Information File which contains 400,000 vertical files of newspaper and magazine articles, pamphlets and other small items.  The files are organized by subject and there is a card file index for easy searching.

 

Some of the most interesting primary sources in the Memphis and Shelby County Room are its manuscript collections.  Manuscript collections are an assortment of items such as correspondence, photographs, maps, financial records, contracts, and newspaper clippings of individuals and organizations. For example the library has the manuscript collections of Memphis political boss E. H. Crump, civil rights pioneer Maxine A. Smith, musician Jerry Lee Lewis, the Goldsmith’s Department Store, Rabbi James Wax, the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain and Church of God in Christ leader E. W. Mason.

 

All of the primary sources in the Memphis and Shelby County Room are waiting for you to come and search through them. You will be surprised at what you learn about your own hometown.

 

Memphis and Shelby County Room
4th Floor
Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library
3030 Poplar Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38111
901.415.2742
www.memphislibrary.org
Blog - http://memphisroom.wordpress.com

About Dig Memphis

Dig Memphis is the digital archive of the Memphis Public Library & Information Center.   On this site we will showcase many of the treasures of the Memphis and Shelby County Room.  As an ongoing project of the library, new items are added regularly, so check back frequently.

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